U.S. law as it relates to refugees

The U.S. law of right of asylum has been shaped by the international and Federal law. Refugees take up about one-tenth of the total immigration to the U.S. and more than two million refugees arrived in the U.S. since 1980.

The U.S. began to recognize legitimate refugees since the passage of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. According to these documents, a refugee is a person outside of his or her country due to fear of prosecution and unwilling or unable to make available. The law protects them from the fear of prosecution based on race, nationality, religion, political opinion, and membership of a particular social group. These laws protect refugees and guarantee that they will not be return to the place where they will be prosecuted.

The passing of the Refugee Act in 1980 codified all existing protocols and substantially expanded it too. It established the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the U.S. Department of Health and Human services. This led to handling of refugees by the U.S. Bureau of Population in 2004 under the umbrella of the Department of State. Today refugee and asylum related issues are handled by the Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.